Use your head: is it okay to train if you’re sick? – Way of life – Aurora Advertiser – Aurora, MO
If you’re sick and planning to exercise this cold and flu season, experts recommend using your head – and recognizing the body’s warning signs.
It is especially important to take precautions this winter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consulting a doctor is always a good idea if you have any questions about symptoms or questions about quarantine or isolation.
But in general, physical activity isn’t necessarily a no-no to a milder illness like the common cold.
“The typical rule of thumb that many practitioners and exercise physiologists like to stick to is that if symptoms are above the neck, it’s okay to go outside and exercise,” said Amanda Paluch, assistant professor at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Think of a runny nose or mild headache, although it might be wise to break away from your typical routine, she said.
“Maybe just go for a walk instead of running vigorously,” said Paluch. “Even with this lower intensity, you can still see advantages. If you just get out, you can feel a little better. “
Symptoms below the throat, such as a chest congestion or upset stomach, are typically signs to avoid movement. Never exercise if you have a fever, whether it’s the flu, COVID-19, or another virus, said Dr. Felipe Lobelo, Associate Professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
Recently updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally recommend isolating people diagnosed with COVID-19 with or without symptoms for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms or after a positive test.
So that also means you don’t have to exercise during that time, Lobelo said. Even after this 10-day period, people should wait another week before going back to exercise.
And the return to exercise after recovery should be gradual. “You will likely feel deconditioned from bed rest and much less activity, in addition to the lingering effects of COVID if you’ve had a cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath.”
Lobelo added that it is important to notify your doctor if exercise does not gradually improve symptoms, or if physical activity develops new symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue.
During the pandemic, finding safe and responsible ways to stay active, whether at home or outside, using social distancing remains important. Physical activity lowers blood pressure and anxiety, improves mood and energy levels, and helps people sleep better, according to the CDC.
However, it’s best to avoid indoor gym activities as the potential for coronavirus transmission is increased, Lobelo said. When you go, wear face covering, maintain social distance, and wipe gear regularly.
“You really want to focus on outdoor activities as much as possible,” said Lobelo. He also encouraged people to take a mask with them outdoors, for example to wear when they pass someone on a trail.
Paluch shared tips for those not used to exercising in the cold, including wearing layers of clothing that can be taken off when needed. Wearing a mask while exercising has the added benefit of keeping your face warm.
A fitness tracker could also be a creative way to stay active and connect virtually with family and friends, said Paluch, who is researching the benefits of wearable sensors. For example, family members could try to find out who can collect the most steps during a week and compare the results online.
“These kinds of things can keep people connected and maybe provide some motivation,” said Paluch. “You can have this social support without direct contact.”